Project aims to improve the Foreign Language program in Haiti schools

Ann Prepare Lavni is a Haitian Creole phrase meaning “Let us prepare the future.” This nonprofit project, organized by students, aims to alleviate the costs of Haiti’s Foreign Language programs through the donation of hygiene supplies, school supplies and the training of Foreign Language teachers to better prepare them for educating the youth.

The project was co-founded by the Tavárez sisters Carolina and Lidia. Both of them hail from the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Lidia attends Sacramento State and is majoring in neuropsychology, while Carolina attends UC Davis, majoring in Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American and hemispheric studies and education.

“I want to make a difference in the Haitian educational system, since I have personally witnessed this dilemma,” Carolina said in an e-mail.

She was born and raised on the Dominican side of the island until the age of 13.

Carolina first saw this project coming to fruition after receiving a grant for $20,000 from the UC Davis Blum Center. The Poverty Alleviation Through Action (PATA) grant allows students to travel in the summer to an undeveloped country to create a program that will benefit not only the country’s economy, but the country as a whole.

Tavárez and other volunteers will be heading to the city of Jacmel, a border city in the Dominican Republic, on June 23 and again sometime in December. Since Jacmel is a border city, the children are exposed to a multitude of languages including French, Creole and Spanish. There, they will work closely with foreign language teachers ranging from fourth to 12th grade.

According to Carolina’s research, 95 percent of the population only speaks Haitian Creole. She believes that studying a second language can open up entirely new doors for the children including “better communicative ability, cognitive development, cultural awareness, and job opportunities.”

In addition, the government offers a mere 1.8 percent of its support to education. Roughly half of the children do not attend school and of those who do, 80 percent need to attend private school due to the lack of public schooling options.

This project aims to spur better teaching methods and reduce the prohibitively high cost of education in Haiti.

The project has already received countless donations according to Monserrat Garcia, one of the first volunteers for the project.
“I knew this was going to be huge and now we have people in the Dominican Republic and Mexico helping us out,” Garcia said in an e-mail.

Garcia has been integral in spreading the word about the project. She will take part in a TV interview on May 8 with Univision on Channel 19.

Lidia Tavárez, Carolina’s sister and co-founder of the project, echoes Garcia’s sentiments.

“At first I thought it would be hard to get far for the two of us, but then I saw how others joined forces and got the ball rolling; it gave me faith and reassurance, and I know we won’t stop until we finish the job!” Lidia said in an e-mail.

Lidia created the Facebook page and website for the project: facebook.com/AnnPrepareLavni and AnnPrepareLavni.webs.com. The project coordinators can be contacted at annpreparelavni@gmail.com.

They are accepting donations of notebooks, pencils, books and other school supplies, as well as hygienic supplies like shampoo, toothbrushes, socks and other supplies. Volunteers and monetary donations are also welcomed. The supplies will be used to assist  Haitian children, who have been affected by the 2010 earthquake.

ANDREW POH can be reached city@theaggie.org.

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